Posted by Andrew Shi
Chelsea Jones '12 is one of the captains of the riding team. She has participated in the riding team all four years at Skidmore, but started riding at the age of two.
Jones continued riding and when she entered Skidmore she was rewarded with great success for her hard work."We have always done very well in our region and it is expected that we win every show. Sophomore year we actually won nationals and last year we were reserve champions at nationals. This year ...we recently won zones and are off to nationals in two weeks," Jones said.
Although the team has been very successful Jones says: "being on the team for four years has had its ups and downs just as any sport. I have been fortunate to go to nationals all four years for the team, however there is a lot of stress and expectations that arise from nationals that have led to the tougher times on the team." Those tough times include some performances Jones described as poor, but were good enough to win her class at zones in her division.
Jones has used her poorer performances as opportunities to learn, and her journey at Skidmore is testimony to her growth. "I started off on the team as a novice rider and have now made my way through to an open rider," (the highest level) Jones said.
It is perhaps her growth as well as her will to win and ability to remain calm that made her captain. Despite the calm facade, Jones admits that she often is under a lot of pressure, mostly due to her own doing."I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed and take doing something wrong very hard and personal."
Jones says that leading the riding team to nationals has not been easy, and the role as captain is tolling. "I am very lucky this year because all the girls on the team are fantastic... however, to be the go between the coach and riders, as I care a great deal about both, is hard as sometimes there are sticky situations that I am the messenger for."
Also, with championships approaching, nerves are running high and Jones works hard to keep her teammates happy and motivated. "I am just there to cheer my teammates on and give them hugs and support no matter how well they do. If members on the team start to get down on themselves they are not going to perform as well as they can" Jones said.
After her final IHSA nationals and graduation Jones says she will continue riding but aspires to become a child psychiatrist. "I am a Saratoga mentor and have been since my freshman year of college. I have been a mentor for the same girl from age 6 to 10 and this has been one of the best experiences I have had at Skidmore. I have also interned at the Four Winds Psychiatric hospital in Saratoga where I found my passion for children with psychiatric disorders... For the future I am hoping to become a child psychiatrist so there is a long road ahead of schooling for me. "
For now though Jones will keep her focus on the IHSA nationals. "IHSA nationals are always stressful and nerve-wracking ...but this year seems special because it is my last year adding some pressure." Still Jones is optimistic about this year's results, although she says a lot depends on the horses that the team's randomly receive. "I am very confident in the team we have going this year as many of us have shown for the team at nationals before and if we are lucky enough to get the right horses I see no reason why we could not win."